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Paul and Marie Guengerich in their apartment, before downsizing to assisted living and nursing care.
Mennonite Mission Network staff
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Paul Guengerich, former registrar at Eastern Mennonite University, and his wife, Marjorie, former elementary school teacher and longtime manager of Gift and Thrift MCC Store in Harrisonburg, Va., have both retired several times from various careers.

They are now what sociologists and their pastor son, Ron Guengerich, term “old old” – in their nineties. Like many people that reach these years, they have had to face the loss of independence: giving up driving, forfeiting winters in Florida, traveling to visit grandchildren.

The Guengeriches and their adult children are guests on this week's Shaping Families radio program, sharing what it’s been like to downsize—several times. Earlier they appeared in the documentary Embracing Aging, produced by Third Way Media.

To make matters more difficult, soon after they entered assisted living, Paul became ill and was transferred to nursing care. Now, after 60 years of marriage, they must live in separate facilities.

“We have to be flexible,” said Susan, a nearby daughter-in-law. “We just live one day, one hour at a time. Faith has been very important for them and for us in keeping a perspective. It’s been hard, but at least we can relax in the knowledge that we’ll get through this journey and we have God walking with us.”

Shaping Families radio program airs each weekend on 17 local radio stations and online at Also featured at the website is a weekly blog by host Burton Buller, a weekly recipe from Shaping Families staff and contributors, a study guide for small groups and Sunday school classes and many additional resources.  Shaping Families is produced by Third Way Media through Mennonite Mission Network. Families aging series- Housing changes





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